Are there many feelings quite so great as receiving a second chance? Perhaps you’ve screwed it up royally with a boss, or with a spouse, and they forgive you–isn’t that immense pressure of relief something indescribable? Years ago, I (as many of you!) blamed God for circumstances that were tearing my life apart. I had traced the path that had brought me to where I was, and at each turning I could see there was no one who had been in charge–except God. I felt He had “set me up,” and I was hurt and angrier than I can ever remember being. (Just being honest). Eventually, and yes, it took a while, I saw what He had been teaching me, and it broke my heart. Had He left me at all during that time? No.

It took a long time before I could accept His forgiveness and move on. Have you been there? Allowed Satan to beat you down because of your past? I’ve seldom met anyone who hasn’t (but yes, there are some). It is at that time I think of David, the king, a “man after God’s own heart,” but who was the cause of a multitude of family crises: not only had he sinned with Bathsheba , but it is not too far fetched to believe that he purposely did not go to war–at the time of year when kings went to battle–so that the assignation could take place with her. Did he not consider she might get pregnant? He received a second chance from God when Nathan the prophet came to point out his adultery, and he repented. He later learned a son had raped a daughter; did he take action? No. A brother took action and a line of dominoes fell, causing those waves go throughout his family. Again, God forgave him and in His mercy and grace, loved David.

Peter, that disciple whom we who have a choleric, type A personality, love, was forewarned that not only had Satan asked for the permission to “sift [him] like wheat,” but was told by Jesus that he would deny Him. Think of it! Three years of following Jesus, learning at His feet, seeing the miracles, being adored by the crowds as someone who was in the “in” group around Jesus, and Jesus tells him that he will deny Him three times. Peter’s reaction? “Not me, Lord.” I went through a time in life when I would say, I’ve learned my lesson regarding this certain problem. God showed me I was wrong. Like Peter, I had to be brought low to realize how fragile faith sometimes is.

This past Sunday at Thomas Road, we looked at Jonah–a man whom Jesus referred to, making this not a “fairy tale,” but a true story of a real man, a prophet called by God, who had failings just as we do. Most children know of the man the whale swallowed, but little else. He not only ran from God’s instructions to preach, but also had a very bad attitude after God showed them mercy–forgetting that God had just shown mercy to him by saving his life from the whale. The picture above made me think how I would react if I were vomited up on the shore out of the belly of a fish. I’d be screaming, “I’m alive! I’m alive!!” (I wasn’t able to edit the text in the picture, so just imagine that’s what is being screamed). He was so angry because he felt he had lost face with the people of Nineveh. Do we nurse our pride or guard our reputation to the point we argue with God? There are great lessons to be learned from Jonah’s life, primarily that once we are God’s child, He never disowns us–else there would be no reason for Paul to write, “Can anything separate us from the love of God? Can…” and he lists a ton of reasons, including “THINGS present, and THINGS to come.” That covers just about everything I can think of. How about you? Does it cover what you’ve done? Then you have another chance. Grab it and hang on to His hand!

Get a notebook, an easy chair, and be prepared to watch the service preached this past Sunday. It’s even enjoyable to view the smiling faces of those in the congregation who were taught in Sunday School using real flannelgraphs, as they see the pictures change. Modern technology is great, but the memories of those years of teaching show on the faces, and you can see the smiles. Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and select JONAH, and then do the sermon study below. Invite a friend if you have time, but enjoy the digging into the Scripture.

Flannelgraph of Faith: Jonah                                                                                    Pastor Jonathan Falwell


Occasionally we’re asked to take a responsibility in an event or situation for which we’re competent, but don’t wish to participate. Sometimes we will go so far as to make plans to “be away” in order to escape taking on the task. Can you think of an example? If you’re in a group, share if you can; if not, write your answers in a notebook that will show your growth as a Christian.

Today we will conclude our Flannelgraph series, having used a modern twist on the old visual aid style of teaching. We have reframed the precious stories we learned as children, looking for deeper meanings to apply to our lives as we continue to grow in Christ. We are going to learn from Jonah, the prophet who was commissioned by God to go preach repentance to a people whose sins were leading them to their destruction.

Focal Passages: Jonah, Chapters 1-4

Think About or Discuss:


  1. Jonah, an Israelite, was called by God to prophecy to the enemy country of Nineveh. Instead of obeying, Jonah ran from God. If you don’t know the first part of Jonah’s life, take time to read chapters 1 to 2:10, and write a short answer.

God’s Call Trumps Our Comfort

  1. What is the most astonishing fact that stands out after God called Jonah to go preach to Nineveh?
  2. How was his fleeing in the opposite direction the same as your knowing to obey God, but not doing it? How does God view the difference between the two situations?
  3. Where was Jonah when the storm from God came upon the ship? How can you compare this to the storms that may come into your life when you are in disobedience to God’s will? Why does He bring those storms (Heb.12:5,6)?

God’s Redemption Trumps Our Contempt (Anger)

  1. Can you write or discuss what occurred after the sailors threw Jonah into the sea?
  2. Read Jonah 2:2-10. Everyone can certainly understand Jonah’s fervent prayer of repentance when he found himself inside the belly of the whale, miraculously alive. Why does incredible trouble cause you to repent of known sin and turn to God? Was 9/11 a good example? Why?
  3. What happened next? Read 3:1-10 if you’re not sure. How was Jonah received in Nineveh?
  4. How did he react? Read 4:1-4.

God’s Salvation Trumps Everything

  1. It is easy to criticize Jonah’s reaction to God’s incredible mercy to the people of Nineveh, but what was his real problem? What was he missing that had just happened in his own life? Are you ever aware that God is merciful toward you, but subsequently you get angry as He shows mercy to someone you think unworthy?
  2. God acted again in mercy, even following Jonah’s angry response. What happens in the last several verses of chapter 4? Even though Jonah was in sin, reacting with hurt pride, God still granted him grace and mercy. Can you think of an example when He gave you grace when you didn’t deserve it?


What a short book to be so full of lessons for life! We have seen how God in His power wanted to save an ungodly heathen nation, bringing them to Himself. In calling Jonah, He showed His authority over nature by causing the storm over the boat; His control was again manifest as He provided a sea creature to not only swallow Jonah, but provided air for him in the belly of the whale. He gave Jonah another chance to go to Nineveh, where He used him to cause an entire kingdom to repent and be saved. He administered grace to an angry prophet, and in love caused a plant to grow for shade. His power over His creation provided a worm to devour the plant, making Jonah all the angrier, yet God was trying to get him to understand how much more valuable a human soul is than a plant.

We can also learn totally different lessons from the first chapter. We have an enemy who is alive and well, roaming the earth to tempt and devour the believers. As we read the first few verses we understand that Satan is willing to help those who would run from Jesus, seeking to do their own thing. He will provide a way (in this case, the ship), to make it as easy as possible. But (verse 3b) there is always a “fare” that must be paid for running. And Satan cannot stop the Almighty God when He is ready to rescue and use His servant.

Hopefully, as you go about your daily activities this week, you pay special attention to your actions, choosing always to follow God. God is our Rescuer, our Deliverer, and our Strength. Share Him with those you love—and those you may not love—this week.

Memory Verse: Jonah 2:9: But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.

Ask Yourself: Am I running from anything God has asked me to do?


© Svetlin Ivanov

ID 4589521 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Power Under Control, or Without Control?

Close-up of an anonymous athletic torso




Just as we sat down to supper we heard the crash of a vehicle against the pasture fence. Jumping up, we ran to the front door, seeing a Jeep laying on its side, the tires still spinning and the heavy wooden fence obliterated. A young adult female was near the ditch. We called 911, obviously needing an ambulance and police.

The rural countryside was not filled with neighbors–most of us were on land that might be anywhere from five to five hundred acres. It was only seconds, though, before the closest neighbors began running toward the scene, as the sound of the crash had reverberated throughout the quiet area. The girl had sat up, but you could see she was in total shock. She kept asking, “Is he dead?” We didn’t see anyone else around–until we walked around the vehicle. There, under what had been the right side, was a young man, pinned between the ground and the Jeep. All we could see was part of his head, and his face was turning gray.

There were four or five men around us by then, and I frantically tried to convey to 911 that we were almost out of time. His gray face was now beginning to go to the purplish-blue, and we knew he was going to die as we watched, being crushed by the weight of the Jeep.

My husband took command, telling the  few men to grab part of the heavy vehicle. Four men, lifting one car, one to move the man. There was nothing we women could do, except watch and pray. On the count of three, my husband told the men to lift the vehicle up–even a few inches might get his body out from under the weight of metal. The man who was ready to pull the body was in position–it might be dangerous, but death was so close we had no choice. My husband counted, and the four men heaved the massive weight straight up, giving the last man precious seconds to drag the man the few inches needed to free his diaphragm; at the same time, we heard the emergency vehicles coming at top speed. One of the men began CPR on the victim, then the EMT’s arrived, grabbed oxygen and took over.

How could a few men lift a powerful vehicle? Adrenalin, you say. Probably. God? Certainly, and really, the times you’ve read of similar circumstances you can explain it however you wish, but the truth is, there is no proof except to say that when a person is in emergency mode, amazing things can happen. By the way, we visited him in the hospital. He and his girlfriend lived in our countryside, had picked up a pizza, and were heading home. They had an argument that got very heated, and she–in ignorance–jerked the emergency brake lever to full mode. And yes, the EMT’s were able to get his heart beating again. We visited him a couple of weeks later at his house, and found he had been without oxygen long enough that it had affected his brain. He was having to begin learning the basics again: how to eat, talk, walk, and live. The girlfriend disappeared from the scene (she may have been charged but we never knew), but she could not handle seeing the evidence of what her temper had caused. Could she be forgiven for what she had done? Oh, yes. But did that change his circumstances. Not at all. The two do not go hand in hand. If you murder someone, can forgiveness from God be sought and obtained? Definitely, if you are repentant, and His child. Will the dead come back to life? No. Consequences are a memory the brain tries to deal with the rest of our lives.

The presence of power was manifest in Samson most of his life. If you were raised in Sunday School, you remember the stories of David & Goliath, Noah and the ark, Samson tearing the lion apart, Jonah and the whale, and more. Stories where amazing power was displayed. Noah illustrates that not all power is muscular, however. He exercised tremendous control as he built a boat while he listened to the jeers, vicious insults, and public humiliation from those who probably called him every name known at that time as an insult. Yet he persevered–his power was self-control. Power can take so many forms: not speaking out when someone is wrong and you know the truth. My grandmother was that type of woman. She. would. not. argue. How many people do you know who will not correct someone if their information is wrong? Not many, I’m certain. The only time it’s acceptable is a situation where the end result might have real consequences. Recently my daughter made a statement that was incorrect. Someone with her later told me, “I could have corrected her, but why? It wasn’t hurting anything to let her think what she did” (the make of a car, I think it was!) “so I let it roll off my back, rather than arguing.” That person deserved much praise for self control in realizing how foolish it is to show her up! The Bible says, “all contention stems from pride.” Wanting to always show how smart you are and being right is pride. Wow. God hates that.

There are tons of examples of power. Samson, the focus of the sermon this past Sunday at Thomas Road, was meant to deliver Israel from enslavement to her enemies, but his life was lived for worldly pleasures. (When you have time, read Judges 13:1-16:31). He did not seem to learn from his mistakes, but instead, went from one bad choice to another to another. Yet in the end, as immoral as he had lived most of his life, he cried out to God and God heard him, answered, and delivered Israel through his death. He was a powerful man in muscles, but not in self-control. How sad. Power can be knowing you could make so much more money for your company if you ____ (fill in the blank.) But… doing so would be a reproach to your testimony that you are a Christ-follower. You don’t do it. That is the power of discipline. And on and on.

If you recognized the illustration of the wreck, I used it one other time, a long time ago (in dog years), but it serves such a purpose in focusing our minds on the aptitude we have to use our self-discipline (power) or self-control (power) wisely or foolishly–as the young woman did in jerking the brake and taking the boyfriend’s quality of life. Take a few minutes to click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and select the sermon for Sunday July 16, on Flannelgraph of Faith: Samson. You’ll learn much from his life that can be applied to your own, and hopefully you will see that real power, that which comes to you from God, is to be used to live a godly life! Get a drink, your notebook, and settle back for a time of digging into God’s word! Search the sermon study below, answering the questions in order to fully understand what God has in store for you.

Flannelgraph of Faith: Samson                                                                                                Pastor Jonathan Falwell


It is not unusual for expectant parents to desire a goal for the baby’s future (for instance, perhaps becoming part of the family law firm, or perhaps a pastor). Do you know someone who is an example of such a life, and what has been the outcome? Write your answer down if you’re by yourself, or discuss this if you’re with friends.

As we continue looking at Bible characters whose lives have much to teach us, we come to the powerfully strong Israelite, Samson. Using the old-school visual teaching of the flannelgraph, this colorful, yet wayward, man had a future ordered by God. As the last in the line of judges of Israel, he lived a life that will encourage many who have wondered if God gives second chances.

Focal Passages: Taken from Judges 13:1 through 16:31

Think About or Discuss:

God’s Promises Are Filled with Power

  1. Read Judges 13:1. What was the condition of the people of Israel after the judge before Samson had died? How long were they in captivity this time?
  2. Each time Israel found themselves enslaved by other nations, what did they eventually do? How is that like our own actions?
  3. In verses 2, 3 & 5, how did God act in grace toward His people? What was the promise and purpose for Samson that God gave his mother?

God’s Promises Can Be Derailed by Our Actions:

  1. Can anyone paraphrase the next years of Samson’s life? If not, and you have a few minutes, read the three chapters of Samson’s life. You will be amazed at some of his actions! What was his greatest hindrance to God’s perfect plan for him? Read 1 John 2:16. Does this sum up his actions?
  2. Read Jeremiah 29:11. What would you do differently if you had known from a child that God’s had a specific plan for your life, that would give you “hope, and a future”?
  3. What are some examples of God’s ideal plan for you, and how can you wreck what He wants to accomplish? (For example, marriage is His perfect plan, unfaithfulness and divorce can thwart it.)
  4. When you ruin the plan God had for you, what does He do? Read Romans 8:28,29. After receiving forgiveness (1 John 1:9), how does this change the consequences?

God’s Promises Are Forever Promises:

  1. Read 16:28-30. Samson knew how badly he had hindered God’s plans for his life, and begged God for one more chance. What did God do?
  2. What lesson can you learn from the continual backsliding that Samson did, and yet, when he cried out to God, God helped him?


It is hard to read these chapters in Judges on the life of Samson, and not have questions and concerns about the immoral way in which he lived his life, yet was used mightily by God. Being brought up to be Israel’s deliverer from the Philistines, as an adult he went from one sinful situation to another. Yet somehow, in the timing of all the years that he judged Israel, he apparently had a faith so profound that he is listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11:32.

We can learn much from Samson’s life. God promised that he would be used for a specific plan and purpose, and nothing could take that away. He promised it to Samson’s mother, and it was not conditional on Samson never straying from the path of righteousness. We also were created by God for something above and beyond all we can ask or think, but we must live lives of faithfulness to see that purpose fulfilled. We also can take comfort in knowing that the backslider can return to the God he left for the world, and will find Him waiting with arms open wide. That is a blessed reassurance. The cry of our heart should always be that the Lord would make Himself so real to us that we recognize answers to our heart’s requests as quickly as they come. Nothing fills you with the security of being loved, as seeing Him fulfilling promises to give you a life full of His unmerited favor.

Memory Verse: Judges 6:16: Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” (NKJV


© MaxahnerID 6035632 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The Strength of Love

The 611 was coming Memorial Day weekend.

“What’s that?” you ask. Well, it’s a very old train.

Sure enough, Memorial Day weekend came and people paid hundreds of dollars to ride this historical train, while many more lined up at every possible sighting along the tracks to take pictures of the restored and polished engine and cars. It chugged along and blew its whistle in pride, the picture of strength and beauty. One car had “St. Augustine” on it. Around the curve it came, while cameras rolled; tv crews from stations were on hand to give the background of this amazing piece of America’s past. After it had passed, the crowds slowly dwindled and eventually left. But something was left behind–unnoticed.

Your husband comes home and announces a newly-received promotion. You attend the dinner in his honor and he politely gives a few seconds of thanks to his family and team for their support. The proud team watches and cheers as he talks about where he’ll take the company now. But you know something is left behind. The family group; the children’s time—but it’s not thought about.

The train made the tracks pound as it powerfully went down the line, into view of those watching, around the curve and on out of sight. The tracks were strong and level, and the safety of the passengers depended on them. They held the weight of it all. Not a crack or problem could be permitted or the train could possibly crash.

The wife at home watches the children, cleans, tries to have dinner ready when it’s time for her husband. She now answers the phone to hear another “I’ll be late because of work” call. There are arguments and tears and no recognition for all the hard work she does. An occasional “thank you,” would be appreciated. But she must be strong and level headed for the children, pulling the weight of two parents. The crack starts to widen and she needs strength.

We admire and give honor to some things, often forgetting what upholds it. The tracks are old but strong. The train could not safely go down the track without them being tested often. But no one gives recognition to them or takes pictures of them: after all, they’re not seen as anything special, and no one recognizes that it is their sturdiness and reliability that keeps the train going.

The husband works hard, but doesn’t give a thought to his clean clothes, his clean bed, towels, meals, obedient children. He thinks it’s because he works. He doesn’t notice the strong woman who is raising his children, keeping his house

We treat God the same way as the train tracks or the wife many times. He’s there and we give a quick prayer as needed (“thanks for the food,” “thanks for my new bride,” “help me get more money,” etc.,) but as we ride along constantly on Him, we take Him for granted, always expecting to have Him under our feet.

The tracks get driven often during the week by those whose job it is to look for any hint of a problem. If they weren’t extremely conscientious of the importance of what they do, repairs would not get done as needed. In the same manner, if we don’t check for ‘deficiencies’ or ‘cracks’ in our relationship with Jesus, then they will get bigger and eventually break—and we will fall.

Galatians 5:19-21 lists some of our sinful natures: 19) When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20) idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21) envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.

Galatians 5:22 starts listing our fruits from the Holy Spirit, and our strength: 22) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23) gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Which track do we follow? Which one do we strengthen? Which one do we recognize? Do we idolize the person who is receiving man’s honor or do we look for the real source of strength and build on that?

In this week’s sermon at Thomas Road, we continue to look at the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This week we’re focusing on the strength and love that comes from Him directly to us. We’ll look at many things He says and promises to those who love Him, and as we do so, we’ll find that any “cracks” in our relationship with Him will be filled if we let Him; He will undergird us with all the necessary strength to live a holy, fruitful life! Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and select “Not My Jesus: What Did Jesus Say About YOU?” Get your notebook for notes, watch how you grow as you lean on Him, study His will for your life, and spread the good news that He has come to seek and save those who are lost!

Not My Jesus: What Does Jesus Say About YOU?                                                                                               

Pastor Jonathan Falwell



Love has become a common word used for everything from our feelings for a chocolate cake, pizza, certain cars to people we know. Can you share or think of an example from your life when you’ve been challenged by the word “love”?

Having carefully examined evidence by secular historians showing that Jesus lived, reading records of the witnesses who saw Him during His ministry and after the resurrection, studying His own words about Himself, and the witness of God as to who He is, we should now know we can trust the truth of what He says about you in our relationship with Him. Let’s look at how He values those who choose to obey Him.

Focal Passage: John 15:1-27

Think About or Discuss:

You are Ready

  1. Read verse 2. What does Jesus say happens to you at salvation? What does this make you ready for?
  2. Perhaps you have a “green thumb”; what occurs when you take care of your flowers or plants? How does God take care of you?

You are Protected

  1. In verse 5a, what did Jesus say your relationship to Him is like?
  2. If you break a branch off a tree, what happens to it? Can you exist as a believer, without Christ? Why?

You are Powerful

  1. Read 5b. How do you “remain” in Jesus? What is the evidence in the life of a person who is abiding in Christ?
  2. What is promised to believers in this verse? What is the warning?

You are Loved

  1. Read verses 9-10. What are some terms you could use to describe God’s love for His Son (who was worthy)? Can you comprehend that Jesus loves you (who are unworthy) with that same love? How?
  2. How do you remain in His love? What is the greatest example that you know that Jesus obeyed God’s will, remaining in His (God’s) love?

You are promised Joy

  1. Read verse 11. What “things” was Jesus referring to?
  2. How much joy does He promise you if you love and obey Him?

You are His friend

  1. Read verses 14-15. What do you call those with whom you have just a “waving” relationship? What about those with whom you share time, food, fun?
  2. In Amos 3:3, God asks, “Do two people walk hand in hand if they are not going to the same place?” This implies an answer of No! In verse 15, how does that confirm what Jesus is saying about your being called His friend?

You are Chosen

  1. What does Jesus say in verse 16? How should that impact your life? When you “choose” anything, why does it become special to you just by the fact that you are making the choice to embrace it (a spouse, a car, a house, etc.)?

You are given great help

  1. Read verse 16. Do you remember the old hymn, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” and if so, can you recall the first verse? If not, look at Matt. 6:30, 33, and John 14:16. Who is this Comforter? How will He help you?

You are Forgiven

  1. Have you ever seen a dead person or animal sit up? What can they do? How does this illustrate what God has done for you when you believe? Read Romans 10:9, 10 if you need to clarify this.


Did you grow up in a dysfunctional family, where love was not a priority as much as discipline? Or possibly yours was just an undemonstrative family, and you never learned to show your love. Both are common, and make it harder for us to understand God’s love for us, as we are full of sin! Yet as we read the scriptures, Jesus not only speaks of His love for us, but also has shown it by dying for us, and we see that His is an active love, full of grace and longsuffering, with “mercies that are new every morning” (Lam. 3:22, 23). We should take heart! Phil. 4:13 assures us that through Christ, we can accomplish anything—showing love to the unlovely, grace to those who don’t deserve it, even prayer for our enemies to know Christ. A life full of joy is promised to us if we are steadfast in our walk with Him, not worrying about tomorrow. As the song says, we should not be discouraged because—if His eye is on the little sparrow—how much more does He love us, who are “but dust”! Carry that thought with you this week!

Memory Verse: John 15:11: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”


Rachel Coleman, contributor



dreamstime_xxl_82954493Mother was no match for the angry waves. She was such a small woman, barely 5’4″, and maybe 115 lbs., and when she grabbed my eight-year-old hand to go walking in the sand as the ocean waves came in, she had a frantic child on her hands. Gradually, tiptoeing in the water where it dissipated into the sand, my fears calmed. Then she decided to go further out. Having been taught to take a bath in an inch of water, this was going to be a death march.

She tugged me out further, and the little swirling, sudsy water was not quite as fearsome as I thought. One little breaker would come to shore, followed by one a couple of inches higher. By finesse she walked us at a slight angle, and I didn’t realize we getting further from shore until the breakers were hitting my knees. They were various sizes, some small, some a little larger.

Mother didn’t know much about the ocean either. Soon she had tugged me until the waves were around my chest, and I was in a panic. At the same time, out of nowhere came one that went over our heads–and she let go of my hand. That seems millions of years ago, or yesterday. Whichever it was, I was rolling under the water, unable to process anything except strangling fear. Soon, either my mom or my dad found me and got me to shore. Being under the water is the lasting memory I have from the experience, and I hate the ocean to this day.

I have learned as an adult that worry can immobilize you just as surely as fear can. Both make you incapable of rational thought, both can lead to giving up. They are like chains: the link that is fear becomes a link of discouragement; we feel we are not capable to overcome something–an action, a habit, a spouse’s habit–and finally, we give up. Not good! So what can we do about it?

None of us are in this life to lose, are we? No one sets out to fail, with the intention strong in their heart “I’m going to start this day and FAIL just as big as I can!” No, we all want to win. Desiring to win is a great motivator, but before we can do that, we have to get rid of the extra baggage that we are carrying. How do we do that?

Get your Bible, your notebook for jotting thoughts down, and something to drink, then click on the link for the sermon from this past Sunday, preached by Jonathan Falwell at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Go to http://www.trbc.org/sermons and click the one for January 22, 2017. Gather everything you need, and settle in as the church learns how to get unchained from those things that would hold us back from being a winner. We are studying Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Planning University” series, and look forward to breaking free of the financial bondage that enslaves us. Study with us as we prepare our hearts to win this war with the enemy of our souls, set our lives and spirits free, and live an abundant life!

Overflow: Losing Weight to Win                                                                                           January 22, 2017                                                                                                                  Pastor Jonathan Falwell


If you are desiring to engage in exercise, training, or athletics, there are some common sense principles that can hold you back; for instance, running with a heavy weight in each hand. Can you think of some examples?

This week we continue the series entitled “Overflow,” learning to rid ourselves of those things that keep us enslaved with debt. God’s will is that we live life abundantly, and to do so “owing no man anything” (Romans 13:8). As you prepare to work with Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Planning University” materials, spend time studying the weekly sermon—it will help you further equip yourself to be all that God desires.

Focal Passage: Hebrews 12:1-4

Think About or Discuss:

You’re Not Alone

  1. Read verse 1a. What are some reasons we buy into Satan’s lies that we are alone in our entanglement of problems? If you said “most people are ashamed to share their troubles,” you are very true. It is much easier to wear a mask, especially at church, and be thought “super-holy” or “super-successful!” Who are the witnesses the writer to the Hebrews was referring to in this section of verse?
  2. What are some by-products of being lonely? (Try to think of as many as you can, but they will also be listed at the end of the study.)

Let It Go!

  1. Read verse 1b. As you think back upon the opening statement, what are some encumbrances that hold you back from living your life to the fullest? How many things would you like to do for God that you cannot because of a lack of funds? Or lack of good health?
  2. Read James 1:5-8. What will God give you when you are not sure of the right way, the right purchase, or the right decision? How are you to ask?
  3. Read Isaiah 59:2. What will cause a disruption in your relationship with God? Just as sin hurts human relationships, can you see that it also hurts your relationship with God?
  4. How can you lay these “weights” aside? An “Action Plan” is included at the end as well.

Clean It Up

  1. Read verse 1c. How do you know that God does not tolerate sin? Why would even small sins trip you up in your walk with Him? When you have “gotten by” with a sin, what is your natural reaction (in the flesh)?
  2. Read Daniel 4:27-29a. How long did God give Nebuchadnezzar to repent after Daniel had warned him of consequences to his sin?

Never Quit

  1. Read verse 1d. Why should we never quit? Will you win if you quit?
  2. Read James 5:10, 11, and Revelation 3:10. What is the mark of a true believer in Christ?

Know What Matters

  1. There is only one way to end the race well. What is it?


The outcome of any race, athletic event, or even a healthy lifestyle with all its benefits comes only by ridding ourselves of the things that hold us back—those “weights” that so easily beset us. Did you list “worry” as one? Shoving through the fog of sleep to discipline our bodies (I Cor. 9:27)? No pain, no gain, is a common saying when it comes to training, and is so true, even in freeing ourselves from money traps. As we focus on financial freedom, we must lay aside the hindrances that got us ensnared in the first place! Was it to keep up with the neighbors? To have the latest and best electronic or the Toy of the Year? In all cases 1 John 2:16 tells us that these things come from lust: either of the eyes, the flesh, or pride. Lustful thoughts—desire—gives way to actions, which lead to sin, and ultimately we find ourselves in a bad relationship with God. By categorizing these weights, we can eliminate them one by one, until we are in a place where we can start the “Baby Steps” (Dave Ramsey, Video 1) to living a life free from financial chains!

Memory Verse: Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The Degrees of Loneliness (Point 1): Loneliness leads to Discouragement (at where we are), which leads to Fear (of what’s coming), which leads to Inadequacy (I can’t do this), which leads to Apathy (I’ll just quit trying.)

ACTION POINTS FOR LAYING ASIDE HINDRANCES: 1) Look for the weights; 2) Come up with a plan; 3) Stop sinning by getting into God’s Word; 4) Find out what our race is, and start it!

For a deeper study time, get comfortable with using the tools on www.Biblegateway.com or www.blueletterbible.org. They are very user-friendly!

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ultrasound-baby2One final push, and sllllluuurrrppp! Baby was in the world! Months before, we had watched in amazement as we saw the miracle of this baby in the womb, our eyes glued to the monitor screen, afraid to miss even a second of movement! You could see the fingers, toes, beating heart, and even the facial changes. As months went by and another ultrasound was scheduled, we learned this new member of the family was to be a son–one who would be born while Daddy was serving overseas. A boy! After two little girls, the excitement of decorating a room, planning the name, and preparing for sleepless nights became the new “normal” in their household.

When time came for the birth, the military allowed Daddy to come home. Another miracle! And then, to top off the wonder that a new baby brings, my daughter-in-law asked if I’d like to watch the birth. It was a moment in time that you feel stunned with happiness, speechless with gratefulness. Having had my own–five, and losing a sixth–it was still not something I had ever thought I would get to witness. During the labor, everything else fades except the awe of the amazing way God has planned the birth of babies. Soon a head appeared, and with that final push, he became someone we could hold, kiss, love on, and teach the awesomeness of his creation.

Many who read this will never have had that experience, or even worse, will have had the baby aborted while still in the womb. Some, like me, will have lost the wee one that was growing, never having had a chance to know why. Life doesn’t always go like we dreamed when we were young. You can still rejoice that God sent His only Son, to give you a life full of peace. Yesterday is gone, so give today to the Savior.

Still, the miracle of birth brings the long-ago and far-away story of Christmas to mind, and how Mary must have felt as a young girl, probably less than fifteen years old. She was truly, except for God, the only person who knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she was a virgin. Joseph believed because he heard it from the angel, but Mary–even hearing it from the angel–knew that she had never had “relations with a man.” Do you think it all felt surreal, that God had chosen her to be the mother of the Messiah? Undoubtedly. We wonder, how did the residents of her little village treat her, even after Joseph was willing to take her for his wife? Did they continue to think the two had been intimate? Did she fear the pains of labor? Do you think, because she was carrying the Christ-child, that she had no pain? She probably did. (John 16:21). She would have never imagined that a day would come when we could not only see the baby in the womb, but do operations or other life-saving procedures on the unborn!

Christmas is such a special time, a time to remember that God is still the same as He was when He created the earth and all things, the same who gave His only begotten Son to come to the earth to die a death to pay for our sins, and who now waits for the Father to say, “Son, go get Your children!” If you saw the Sunday sermon at Thomas Road Baptist Church, you know Pastor Jonathan Falwell focused on the worship that should pour from within us at all the wonderful things God has done for us.

Get your notebook, a cup of hot chocolate, your Bible, and get ready to work through the study questions below, digging a little deeper into the message that was preached. If you have a friend, family, or group who can join you, make a fellowship time out of it! If not, work on it throughout the week, or do it all in one sitting, but enjoy learning how better to worship the God who loves you so dearly–much more dearly than you can love even your precious children or family. Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and click on the sermon for Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016. Let your worship be a priceless gift to God!

Self on the Shelf: Our Worship Matters                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pastor Jonathan Falwell


Often we hear the term worship used as in, “he worships the ground she walks on!” Can you think of other examples of worship used by the world, relating to things or people? Jot your answers down in your notebook, or discuss them if you have someone with you.

Over the past few weeks we have looked at the importance of the true meaning of the Christmas gift of the Savior. We are hoping it impacts our hearts, so that we are not obsessed with the gifts under the tree. This week we are going to look at the response of Mary, as her entire being worshiped and magnified God in the acceptance of being the chosen mother to God’s Son, Jesus, who was to be born as a baby.

Focal Passages: Luke 1:46-55

Think About or Discuss:

Worship Comes from Within: It is the condition of the heart in our daily living

  1. What comes to your mind when you hear the word worship?
  2. How did Mary worship God in verse 46?
  3. Where should your worship originate? Can you think of a moment when spontaneous gratitude and thanksgiving poured from you because God had done something wonderful for you?

A Life of Worship Results in a Response from God: He always responds to a humble heart

  1. What did Mary mean when she referred to herself as “LOWLY”?
  2. Why is God against the proud (verse 51)? Who is the epitome of Pride?
  3. How does your heart alert you to times you are feeling prideful? Can you be worshiping at that time?

This Response is needed in Our Daily Struggle: His mercy overcomes anything we might face

  1. In verse 50, who are the ones who are recipients of His mercy?
  2. Why do we need His mercy daily? What happens when we decide we can handle a situation? What does that action stem from (verse 51)?

This Response is All that is Needed

  1. Who does God have control over? Do you really believe that truth in the depth of your heart? Do you find yourself “helping” God in situations even when you have prayed and tried to give it to Him? Why do you do this?

This Response is Permanent

  1. Who is the promise of verse 55 for? Who are the children spoken of here?
  2. Mary had studied the Old Testament from a child. What did she believe about God’s promises? Do you believe them to the extent you would die for Him?


Worship is something that is not dependent on external circumstances, but originates in your soul and spirit. You may be “led” in worship by those who are having a group join together in hymns of psalms and praise, but the joy in singing and praying should be an offering to God for all He has done. Few things are more joyous than having spontaneous praise and gratefulness come from your heart because God has shown Himself mighty in a situation. Would that you would always be so full of worship that your soul and spirit magnify Him, as Mary’s did. As you go about this week, be aware of times that pride inserts itself into your life, squashing your wonder at the work God is trying to do. Pray daily that others see Jesus as you live your life, and may your joy and peace be so deep that others desire to know Him and worship Him! Let your daily theme be “O, come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

Memory Verse: Luke 1:49: “For He who is mighty has done great things for me. And Holy is His name.”

Focal Passages: Luke 1:46-55, Prov. 16:18. A mirror response of Mary’s song is Hannah, in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.

C.H. Spurgeon, on Mary’s Song of Worship:

“My soul doth magnify the Lord.” Here is an occupation for all of us who know the Lord, and have been born into His family. It is an occupation which may be followed by all sorts of people. This humble woman speaks of her low estate, and yet she could magnify the Lord. All believers, of every rank and condition, can attend to this work. This is an occupation which can be followed in all places. You need not go up to the meeting house to magnify the Lord, you can do it at home. You may be tossed about upon the sea in a storm, but you may trust His name, and be calm, and so magnify Him. Or, you may be no traveler, and never go a hundred yards out of the village in which you were born, but you may magnify the Lord just as well for all that. This is not an occupation which requires a crowded congregation, it can be fitly performed in solitude. I suppose this sonnet of the Virgin was sung with only one [person] to hear it, her cousin Elizabeth. There is quorum for God’s praise even where there is only one; but, where there are two that agree to praise God, then is the praise exceeding sweet.






Being a “peacemaker” is a job that not many wish to take on. Years ago two very godly men became at odds: one was a pastor, the other an older gentleman who had been on a committee helping his church find the right man to fill the pulpit. When the young man applied, he did not get the job, and his pride was hurt that the older man–whom he thought could sway the vote–had not acted in a manner that caused the committee to offer him the position. Months went by and a wide gulf formed between them, even though the younger man got another church. Unfortunately, they were father and son. On a visit to them, my husband knew the situation could not continue. In addressing the young preacher, he laid out in no uncertain terms the bottom line: “As long as you are at odds with your father, you should not be preaching. You cannot be serving God with the root of bitterness in your heart.” The preacher was mature enough to accept his cousin’s upbraiding. Meanwhile, my husband also went to the father and took him to Matthew 18. “There has to be peace between you and your son, or you are not fulfilling the Scripture.” He talked at some length to them separately, and then we left. It was only days later that we heard the son had gone to see the father, and like the prodigal, was welcomed home with joy. It is draining emotionally to subdue conflict, but Romans 10:15 assures us “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace!” Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

Peace is one of those words that conjures up different ideas or situations to anyone that hears it. A dear friend sits on her deck, a fresh cup of coffee, watching the sunrise through the wood as it shoots shafts of light onto the pond. The water droplets sparkle as fish jump, and the sun turns them into sequins. She loves this early morning time of peace for her devotions. For another, it might be a walk down a dirt road, with wild strawberries growing along the ditch, no people, houses or worries to spoil the day. What is the ideal situation that brings instant calm to your mind when you think of peace? A place, a person, your home?

Lauren is a college graduate who is very charming, attractive, and had a world of hopes and dreams–just like any young adult person. One short-term missionary trip to a third world country, and her heart was left there when she returned. Now she’s gone back, ministering every day to the little children who need a kind word, a hug, someone to love them, a small piece of candy. She has found her peace: it is in the giving of herself to a very needy people. Would that we all could be so filled with the contentment of doing what would bring us the most happiness as we serve God.

Grab your Bible, your notebook, and coffee (or favorite drink!), and prepare to enjoy the Sunday service from Thomas Road Baptist Church, where Pastor Jonathan Falwell preached on “Living in Peace” on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Click on the link http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and select the last sermon. If you have time, join the Praise Team as they worship in song; if not, fast forward to the sermon, and then follow the study notes below to dig deeper into how to live peaceably in a world full of turmoil. If you have a friend, family or group who can join you, you’ll be able to share more insights! If not, you can stretch it out to last the week, or do it all in one sitting. However you are able, prepare to worship the Lord in His holiness, and may He grant you Peace.


Peace. The very word conjures up different emotions and different ideas in everyone. What are some things you think of when someone says you can “live in peace”? Jot them down in your notebook.

Today, more than ever before, we want to find out how to live peacefully in a world rocked on all sides by chaos. We will look at the instructions given by James as to how we can achieve peace in our lives, and pass it on to those with whom we come in contact.

Focal Passage: James 3:13-18

Think About or Discuss:

Serving and Humility

  1. In verse 13, James opens the subject of living in peace by laying out the evidence of the life of a person who understands God’s ways. What are they?
  2. “Proving” that you are wise is an action word, not a thought that crosses your mind. Read James 2:14-17 for a parallel passage. How are you living this honorable life (vs 13)?
  3. How should your service be carried out? Why?

Pure Heart

  1. There are six actions words in verse 14 that reveal a heart that is full of sin. What are they?
  2. How do verses 14-16 sound like the world today?
  3. How is 1 John 2:16 analogous to this passage? Do those sins from verse 14 exist in the passage from John?

Desire to Live as Christ Lived

  1. Look at the qualities of godly wisdom found in verse 17. Who do these remind you of? Is it possible for you to live like this?
  2. There is chaos in society because Christians are being silent. Are these traits active choices?

A Changed World

  1. Read Matt. 5:9. What is a peacemaker? What are the two things that will happen when a peacemaker steps in?


Being a person of peace is so important that it is mentioned in almost every book of the Bible. In 1 Pet. 3:10-12, Peter mentions how important it is that you seek to live in peace. It begins with watching what you say, turning away from evil, and actively seeking peace with others. You cannot help but have a positive impact on those with whom you come into contact if you are a peacemaker, and God promises results (verse 18). It takes a prepared person to have the influence to speak peace so that others listen, however. You must fill your heart with God’s wisdom, pray for His words to be in your mouth, show no favoritism, and be sincere. Turn the work over to God, and let Him produce the results after you have planted the seeds!

Memory Verse: Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.”

Focal Passage: James 3:13-18; 1 John 1:9; Romans 12:18; John 10:10

Photo Copyright by Sandra Day






Strawberries and Fruits

As you walked in the front door, the smells of luscious desserts, fruits, fresh coffee and the aroma from tons of hors d’oeuvres made your mouth water. The house was as clean as possible, waiting for all the guests that had been invited. A politician was coming, one who was running for a state office, and who was happy to come to any home where he could present his platform.

This was not something we usually did: we generally would have friends, visiting pastors or evangelists in to eat, but never had we had a politician. Now, years later, I can’t remember who he was, or what he looked like, but like Lincoln at Gettysburg, I can tell you what he said.

When everyone had their plates full and were settled in, he took the floor. His first words were somewhat of a shock–which is probably why I’ve remembered them as if they had been spoken yesterday. “Everything you do, every choice you make, can usually fall into one of two categories: either you are doing what is best for another person (or group), or what is best for yourself.”

Over the years I’ve tried to find fault with what he said that evening. What about visiting John Doe in the hospital? We both benefit, don’t we? But what was my main motive? To cheer Mr. Doe, or look good in the eyes of those who might find out I had gone? It has caused me to dissect my heart under the microscope of God’s vision, making sure pride is not at the root of many of my actions. I’m afraid, to my shame, it often is.

Your choices can impact so many people, and do it so quickly, can’t they? Right now you have made a choice to read this sermon study, and possibly dig into the Scriptures in order to learn what Christ wants you to do with them, and how best to apply them. If you’re ready, get your notebook, a cup of coffee (or tea!), and click on the sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Sunday, October 2, 2016 by Pastor Jonathan Falwell. Just go to http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, then click “select” for the last sermon. If you have time, watch the entire service, then go through the questions below. You can do a couple each day, or do them all in one day if you have time. Ask a friend to join you, save it for the family or a group, but most of all worship the Lord with the congregation at TRBC, and see what God has for you today.

Is it truly possible that each day your choices are made for one of two motives: for the good of others, or for the good of yourself? Can you think of an example from your activities this week, and which category did the choice(s) fall into? Take a moment to jot your thoughts down in your notebook.

This week Pastor Falwell continues the series, “Unfinished,” looking at the wise counsel in Paul’s instructions to make choices that will bring you peace and joy through Jesus Christ, rather than choosing the temporal pleasures of sin such as the world is making today. You can either make a choice to stop sin dead in its tracks in your life, and pursue serving and trusting God, or choose a path that results in a totally self-centered life.

Read Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

Think About or Discuss:

Sin will keep you from the presence and the power of God
1.    As you read verses 2-4, which description of the corruption of man struck you as being a clear picture of society today? Who is benefiting from the choices made by the type of persons spoken of in those verses?
2.    More than likely you thought of someone in your own family who fell into one of these categories. What can you do for them immediately? How much do you believe in the power of prayer? James 5:16b says that the prayer of a righteous person is very effective. Do you really believe this?

Self-deception doesn’t make things better
3.    Verse 5a spoke of those who have a “form of godliness, but deny its power.” They are saying, “I don’t need God!” Sadly, many consider the pleasures of sin to be worth more than a life lived for Jesus Christ. Yet they consider “going forward” to pray a prayer as evidence they are saved. Paul reminds all of us that being religious is not the same as living a righteous life. Read Matthew 7:16, 17: how can you know someone is saved?
4.    According to a Barna research, most people believe they are going to heaven, even though they live like the world. What does Romans 6:23 tell you? How does this reflect the verses in the passage in Timothy?

Turn away!
5.    Why does verse 5b tell you to turn away from being companions of those who say they don’t need God (paraphrase, 5a), and those listed in 6-9?
6.    If you are to stop sin in your life so that you can become a “vessel fit for His use” what is the first step you must take (hint: 1 John 1:9)?
7.    Hebrews 11:6 gives you the second step of faith in finishing the task God has given; what is it?
8.    Often it is only after a trial that you can look back and see how God brought you through. Psalm 73:26 tells you to look to God for your strength. Why?

Paul made it very clear that being religious does not fulfil the law of Christ. As he lists the society found in the days when men are each doing “what is right in their own eyes,” (Proverbs 21:2), it sounds like the world today. Did you not identify so many of the people you rub shoulders with daily, as he listed those who are in effect saying, “God, leave me alone!”? He concludes this section by reminding Timothy—and you—to not be companions with them, as they will lead you away from the truth. You can love them, witness to them, but do not take them as a “best friend.” The only way you can stop the sin in your life is to be vigilant about your lifestyle. Keep a short account with God, confessing sins as they occur and turning from them, being diligent to study the Scriptures so you can apply them to your life, and being dependent upon God for the strength each day to see that He alone is the one on the throne of your heart. As you begin this new week, pray for the others in your life, as well as yourself, that all would trust Him for the grace and power to live each day pleasing Him.

Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy, Chapter 3:1-9

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